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April 2000



The first "New Millennium" edition of PLANTWISE sees a period of substantial growth in the activities of Denzil Phillips International. We are expanding both in terms of the number of countries where we are working and the scale and importance of the projects in which we are involved. Organising international workshops and exhibitions has become an increasingly important part of our activities in recent months. Although such contracts involve an enormous amount of research and planning they greatly enhance our company’s world-wide reputation and bring us in touch with an expanded customer base. Furthermore our web site and newsletter are attracting increasing attention and we are now beginning to gain important new customers based on initial web based enquiries.


ITC to launch Herbal Newsletter

The Geneva based International Trade Centre (ITC) has recently decided to launch a newsletter aimed at providing exporters of medicinal plants and botanical extracts with information on prices and trade flows in this growing business sector. The International Trade Centre is a United Nations agency, which operates under the umbrella of the World Trade Organisation and the United Nations Agreement on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

ITC’s Market News Service Department provides timely, accurate price and market information on selected primary and semi- processed products for use by importers and exporters particularly those in developing countries and economies in transition. The existing stable of MNS includes briefs on Fresh Fruits and Vegetables, Fruit Juices, Flowers, Spices and Pharma-ceutical Raw Materials. MNS are available on a subscription basis and are sent to clients in more than forty countries. Special rates apply to subscribers from developing countries.

Denzil Phillips International has been awarded a contract by ITC to help set up this new service. The assignment involves selection of products, assistance on format and layout, the establishment of a global network of correspondents and advice on how best to promote this service internationally. Although the final list of products to be included in this MNS have not been finalised they will include a range of European type dried botanicals such as St Johns Wort, Valerian etc, some bulk extracts like Echinacea and Liquorice as well as some more specialised Asian plants and extracts.

Denzil Phillips International will be making a series of consultative missions to Europe, USA, Japan and China in order to develop an appropriate correspondent network. ITC hopes to launch the first edition sometime in the late summer and will be consulting with industry prior to finalising the content and format of the Newsletter. The Medicinal Plant MNS will be supplied monthly by email to subscribers. It is also planned to produce a web based version as soon as is technically possible.
For more information on the MNS see If you have any suggestions for the newsletter please contact PLANTWISE on

IBC’S Herbal 2000 stresses importance of "Functional Foods"

The market for licensed herbals is adversely affected by Europe’s regulatory uncertainties say industry experts at the recent Herbal 2000 conference in London. The conference which was held on 24th and 25th February in the Claridges Hotel and organised by IBC’s Life Science Division was attended by more than two hundred of the most important names in the international herbal industry.

Many of the speakers - including Peggy Brevoort, ex-President of A.M. Todd Botanicals, Gerald Eva, Managing Director of Solgar Vitamins UK and Werner Baer , CEO - Martin Bauer’s Plantextract - see functional foods and beverages as the area where most future growth will come from. Here regulatory interference is at a minimum and opportunities for new product development are far greater than in the field of licensed herbals where the European market still suffers from inconsistencies and uncertainties.
Recent estimates suggest that the world market for functional foods and drinks is around $30 billion while supplements at $2.8 billion are less than one tenth this figure. Interestingly the largest markets for functional foods are not necessarily the largest market for herbal extracts. Germany - which is by the largest consumer of herbal extracts - represents only 16% of the European market while the UK – only a minor player in the field of herbal extracts - is the largest single consumer of functional foods. UK have nearly 30% of the European market for functional foods followed by France with 22% of the market. As Werner Baer, Plantextract’s CEO, pointed out Japan is also a major player in the functional food sector. Since 1991 the Japanese have developed specific legislation for their "foshu” industry ("foods with a specialised health use") and "foshu" has become a billion dollar industry in Japan. Figures by Datamonitor clearly show that it is the soft drink sector where most natural and herbal extracts are used followed by dairy and bakery.

Use of Natural and Herbal Extracts in Liquid Formulations
  Japan USA Europe
Soft drinks 43 35 24
Dairy 25 31 29
Bakery 11 15 15
Pasta 2 4 3
Snacks 3 5 3
Confectionary 5 1 6
Spreads 2 0 8
Other 9 9 12
Values as percentage of market share. Source: Euromonitor 1997

The main question on everyone mind is where the concept of ‘functional foods’ will end and that of the marketing gurus take over. Attempts to sell St Johns Wort yoghurts clearly pushed the regulators too far. But there still appear to be far too many functional foods on the market whose “function” seems anything but defined and where the consumer is being lured - and sometimes wrongly so - into thinking that the addition of tiny quantities of some well known botanical extract will automatically enhance the health and nutritional value of traditional family foods.

Novartis - Quaker Oats link

The recently announced joint venture between America’s Quaker Oats and Switzerland’s Novartis confirms industry opinion that functional foods will be the growth market of the future (see above). The two companies have recently announced they will form a new joint venture company to be called Altus Food which will jointly develop a range of functional food products. Novartis’ existing strength in herbal supplements (Valderra range) infant foods (Gerber foods) and phyto-medicines coupled with Quaker’s enormous distribution and marketing muscle will be a combination hard to beat. One can be sure that similar food-pharma marriages will be on the way designed to exploit the functional food sectors. Unilever have also announced that they would be looking at a similar type of deal and are believed to have been in discussion with German pharma giant Bayer - owners of the Centrum range of herbal supplements.

Pacific Islands Kava Council to promote Kava worldwide

The Pacific Islands Kava Council (PIKC) - which held its first official meeting in July 1999 - has begun work developing a whole host of projects designed to support its mandate to protect the commercial, cultural and heritage interests of Pacfic Kava. The Council, which was set up in 1999 at the request of Kava exporting countries like Tonga, Fidji and Vanuatu, aims to ensure that Kava export is put on a sustainable footing and that the intellectual property rights of Kava growers are respected internationally. PIKC’s Chairman Sione Tupouniua has been negotiating with international donor agencies to enable the Council to more effectively carry out its work promoting Pacific Kava internationally. A major thrust of PIKC’s activities will be to establish better communication between producers and consumers of Kava through trade fairs, exhibitions, seminars and other promotional activities. For further information contact

FDA still undecided about Ma Huang

After nearly three years of enquiries there is still no final decision as to what restrictions the Federal Drugs Adminstration will apply to protect the U.S consumer against possible harmful side effects from the use of Ma Huang (commonly known as Ephedra).
Since the passing of DSHEA in 1994 sales of natural ephedrine have risen enormously in USA particularly amongst the fitness and body building community. In the summer of 1997 the FDA decided it would restrict the sale of this product based on over 800 reports it had received of serious illness, injuries including deaths associated with the use of dietary supplements containing ephedrine alkaloids. Several states like Texas have already put restrictions both on the potency of the capsule (no more than 25 mg per dose) and labelling instructions which recommend doses be limited to less than 100 mg per day. The FDA want to go much further and limit the capsule dose to 8 mg, daily intake to 24 mg and recommend people to stop taking the supplement after seven days. They, moreover, want to add a warning on the bottle which would say “Taking more than the recommended dosage may cause heart attack, stroke, seizure, or death” as well as additional warnings for pregnant and lactating mothers.
Lawyers on behalf of the suppliers are resisting such labelling changes and maintain that the evidence so far collected on the dangers of Ma Huang are inconsistent and unscientific. Whatever the lawyers may say consumers are well advised to seek professional advice before using Ma Huang.

GNC’s own label second most popular in GNC stores

In a recent presentation at London’s Herbal 2000 Dr. Susan Trimbo, Vice President of GNC Scientific Affairs told the audience that their own label products accounted for 16% of all GNC sales in 1999, exceeded only by that of Celestial Seasonings. GNC, which has recently been taken over by Royal Numico of Denmark, is one of the world’s largest herbal retail chains.

Product Turnover in GNC Stores
Brand Frequency Brand Frequency
Celestial Seasonings 16 Sundown 8
GNC 16 Centrum 6
Ginkgoba 16 Herbalife 5
Nature Made 10 Spring Valley 5
Ginsana 9 Nature Brand (GNC) 4
Nature's Way 8
Source: GNC 1999

Dr Trimbo further provided some fascinating insight into the consumer segments buying dietary supplements in GNC stores:

GNC Customer profile
Gender % Age % Family Income % Education %
Male 39 18-34 30 <$30k 23 College graduates 24
Female 61 35-49 35 $30k-$49k 23 Non-graduates 31
50+ 35 $50k+ 37
Source: GNC 1999

These figures suggest that a large of proportion of users do not fall into the category of young professionals, but instead come from low-income, less well-educated backgounds. For more information try

ComSec goes ahead with African Medicinal Plant Trade Forum

The Commonwealth Secretariat recently announced that it had agreed to finance and organise a major international workshop on the trade in medicinal plants and botanical extracts. The meeting is to take place in South Africa towards the end of 2000 and will probably be co-financed by the European Union’s Centre for Development of Industry - a Brussels based organisation which helps support private enterprise in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) The meeting will be used to launch the recently completed Commonwealth “Guidelines to Exporters of Medicinal Plants to European Markets” and will be attended by producers and exporters of medicinal plants throughout East and Central Africa as well as key representatives from European industry, trade promotion organisations and regulatory bodies.

Denzil Phillips International has been awarded the contract to organise the first Commonwealth workshop on medicinal plants in Africa. The company also helped bring CDI and the Secretariat together to discuss possible co-financing. Representatives of the Secretariat and Denzil Phillips International will be visiting South Africa in May to discuss the possible venue and format of the event with Government. Anyone involved in trade with African medicinal plants should contact the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Export and Industrial Development Department or email
They will also make a presentation to the South African Health Food Manufacturers Association on May 12th before flying to Nairobi on 16th May to address members of a conference entitled “Traditional Medicines and Local Communities in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities of the new Millennium” For further information email

Hain buys Celestial Seasonings for $390m

Hain Foods, one of America’s largest health food companies bought Celestial Seasonings, America’s largest herbal tea company, for $390 million in a move that surprised some in the industry. Celestial Seasonings had certainly gone through a rough patch when it launched its herbal supplement range but these problems seemed to have been resolved. Certainly with the enormous distribution power of Hain and as important the financial and marketing muscle of Hain’s largest single shareholder H.J. Heinz, Hain-Celestial is set to become a major force in the US botanical industry. As Market Researchers A.C. Nielsen recently indicated the US tea market is now worth more than $1.6 billion with green tea and herbal teas representing more than $200 million of this segment. Celestial–Hain could make significant inroads into this market.

US Tea Sales (million US$)
Ready to drink 608
Tea bags 543
Ice tea mix 218
Herbal tea 162
Green tea 54
Instant tea 39
TOTAL 1687
Source: A.C. Nielsen 1999

It is in the relatively small green tea sector where most of the growth has been taking place in recent years with Ready-to-drink teas taking second place in the growth table league.

Ghana to develop Medicinal Plant Garden at Aburi

Using a £79,000 grant from the UK National Lottery and Charities Board and technical assistance from Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BCGI) the Aburi Botanic Gardens in Ghana will develop a 136 acre site as a model medicinal plant garden. A project advisory committee has been formed which includes Fiona Dennis of BCGI as well Theodoplius Agbovie, Curator of Aburi, and his assistant Afriyie Damankah. When finished, the garden will be used to encourage villages in the neighborhood to grow and sell more medicinal plants. It should also help educate adults and children in the region to better appreciate their medicinal plant heritage and to learn to identify the key species of medicinal plants that grow in Ghana. The garden will work closely with the nearby Mampong Centre for Research into Traditional Medicine, which carries out research into the uses, potency and commercial value of medicinal plants and herbs. For more information contact

Natural Products Europe vs. Natural Products Expo Europe

It cannot have been good news for the Directors of Natural Products Europe to learn last year that New Hope International Media was intending to launch a Health Food and Herbal Fair in Europe called ‘Natural Products Expo Europe’. Not only is the name similar but also the client. Natural Products Europe was started by Full Moon Communications and was - until last year - very much a small- scale affair concentrating on the health food market in the UK. In the last few years - as dietary supplements and herbals have grown in importance in Europe - so has fair. So much so that Full Moon were forced to shift the event to Olympia, London this year. Of course New Hope Media promoters of Expo West and Expo East have vastly superior financial and managerial resources at their disposal as well as a continental location, which is much more attractive for the big French and German companies who dominate the European nutraceutical scene. For more information on Natural Products Europe see; Natural Products Expo Europe see

Chile invites top botanical experts to "business meet"

Chile’s University of Concepcion with financial support from PROCHILE recently invited a group of top international experts to the mountain spa Termes de Chillan to discuss Chile’s role in the future of the nutraceutical industry. The key note speech was given by Peggy Breevort, one of the pioneers of the U.S. nutraceutical industry, until recently President of A.M. Todd Botanicals, one of America’s leading extract firms. Dr Joerg Gruenwald of Phytopharm Consulting presented an important paper on European market trends supported by Ray Cooper of Pharmanex on the situation of botanicals in the Far East. Other overseas speakers included Ed Fletcher of Wilcox Natural Products (part of Botanicals International) who gave a fascinating talk on the cultivation of the hitherto wild harvested Goldenseal and Mark Blumenthal, President of the American Botanical Council and editor of Herbalgram and Eckehard Luke of Schaper & Brummer. Denzil Phillips, who is actively involved in Chilean botanical projects, attended the event. Further details can be obtained from the Conference organiser Dr Marisol Berti, of the Department of Agronomy of the University of Concepcion. Details from

Noni Juice could be harmful say US Scientists

Following hot on the trail of the Pacific’s herbal Kava Kava comes Noni, a juice widely sold in Hawaii and increasingly in mainland USA. It is used as a remedy against hypertension, ulcers, and heart disease. Unfortunately Noni juice has come in for bad press recently. This is largely due to a report on the death of a patient with kidney disease in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases. The patient, who regularly drank Noni juice, had dangerously high levels of potassium and refused to stop drinking it despite medical advice. Some doctors are warning that Noni juice could be harmful for patients with renal dysfunction. Noni juice has similar levels of potassium to orange and tomato juice both products which are not recommended to patients with kidney problems.

FPI launch Herbal Range

FPI, the Lincolinshire based flavours and fragrance raw materials supplier, has recently gone into nutraceuticals with the set up of its Nutraceutical and Natural Products Division. NNP has launched a limited range of herbal products including Australian Aloe Vera drinking gel and capsules, Hawaian Noni juice and capsules, Green Barley extract as well as Aboriginal Emu Oil The products are all produced for them in Australia where FPI owns one of the world’s largest Aloe Vera plantations. For more information see


    Info on the top organic fair in Europe
    On-line agricultural trading
    Info on the Hanover World Fair
    Association of Phytotherapists
    Info on the Drug Information Association
    An organic info data base
    Second hand processing equipment mart
    Herbal retail database

Up and Coming

  • Vitafoods International 2000
    3rd International Exhibition & Conference 3-5th May 2000
    Provides a meeting point for professionals involved in the science, technology and marketing of nutraceuticals, dietary and herbal supplements, ingredients, functional foods and OTC pharmaceuticals. Organised by PalExpo Vitafoods is expecting over 300 exhibitors and 5,000 professional visitors. It will include some top grade speeches on regulatory problems, marketing trends and technical developments.
  • The Regulation of Herbal Products in Europe. From Diversity to Harmonisation
    May 16th 2000 Royal College of Surgeons of England, London
    This is a major seminar organised by the European Federation of Health Product Manufacturers (EHPM) and includes talks by EHPM Chairman Antony Bush as well as speakers from Germany, Spain, UK, Sweden, Italy and the Netherlands.
  • Natural Product Expo Europe
    RAI International Exhibition and Congress Centre, Amsterdam, Netherlands 6th-8th June
    New Hope International Media, organisers of Expo East and Expo West, make their first sortie across the Atlantic to tap the relatively undeveloped market for nutraceutcal and health food shows in Europe. The show will be divided into two halls - one for supplements and one for health foods - and will include an extensive conference programme highlighting scientific and marketing issues relevant to the industry.
  • World Botanic Gardens Congress
    Asheville, North Carolina June 25-30th, 2000
    Claimed to be the first time that major botanical garden organisations join together to host this historic event which will launch the new International Agenda for Botanic Gardens in Conservation. Special attention will be given to the issue of ex situ conservation of medicinal plants.
  • 2nd International Seminar “Organics in the Supermarket”
    Convention Center, Basle, Switzerland 25-26h August 2000
    This is the second event organised by the prestigious International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) with technical and managerial support from the Swiss Research Institute for Organic Agriculture (FibL) It will include talks by leading organic suppliers like HIPP and the Coop as well as visits to the BioMarche show at Zofingen (25-27th August).

PLANTWISE is published by Edit UK in collaboration with Denzil Phillips International Ltd.
The publishers accept no responsibility for opinions expressed by contributors.

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